Ah! But curable!
I have to say, this club is not this bad. No.
Nobody is this bad, really.
Okay, maybe the Atlanta Braves, but probably not even them.
I know that spring training is just spring training, but this team went 19-11 in the spring. That’s the team I thought we’d be seeing this year. Where did they go?
I suppose this is one of the weirdly attractive things about baseball. Inexplicable, relentless catastrophe.
Of course, a lot of people will be happy to explain it. In fact, they saw it coming. Could have told ya.
But to be playing this bad. That’s pretty inexplicable. This goes far far beyond injuries and strikeouts and OPS and young ball players who lack experience in major league ball. This gets all the way down to the absolute nature of reality and existence.
Reality and existence: utterly brutal.
Life is full of suffering.
The Twins incomprehensible excursion into the doldrums continues today, with yet another loss, 3-1, to the Pale Hose of Chicago. What can you say? Seven hits – one more that the Sox. One double. (The Southsiders got 4 doubles in their 6 hits.) A good pitching effort wasted. Duffy falls to 0-2, despite a 2.60 ERA. Woe, woe, woe is us.
In the midst of this seemingly unending death march of a season, we note a small ray of sunshine falling upon the wings of the circling buzzards.
For Lo, young Tyler Duffy has struck out 4 men in an inning.
All right, all right, it’s not that amazing. It’s been done before. In fact it’s been done 33 times in the American league, and 44 times in the senior circuit. In fact it’s been done recently by one of our own, Francisco Liriano, 5 June 2012. But still.
Duffy opened the seventh by striking out Brett Larie, and then struck out Avisail Garcia. But wait! The ball skips away, bouncing off the plate and away from our catcher (Centeno?) and when the dust settles Garcia resides at first. Well, then, Navarro doubles, and Garcia scores, making it 3-1. Duffy comes back to strike out Austin “Action” Jackson, for his third strike out of the inning. He then intentionally walks Adam Eaton, and then strikes out Jimmy Rollins (#4) to end the inning. One inning, four strike outs. All told, Duffy struck out 9 in 7 innings of work. In a losing effort. But still.
In case you are wondering, no one has ever struck out 5 in an inning. It seems to me like that should have been done, back in the early days of the game. But no. Scripture says, no.
Other Twins who have accomplished the four K feat: Well, Walter Johnson (we get to claim him,) Liriano, as mentioned, Scott Baker, and Phil Hughes (when with the Yankees.)
Chuck Finley (with the Angels and then with the Clevelanders) did this 3 times. That’s kind of amazing.
Anyway. Another loss. But perhaps four strikeouts in an inning… even though it was in a loss… perhaps that’s a sign that fickle fortune… perhaps…
Well, this probably tells us a lot about me. I am the guy that goes down with the sinking ship. Or, looking at this another way, there is generally no room on the bandwagon when I am finally ready to climb aboard.
Stubborn? Overly-cautious? Dim-witted? Faith-based? Optimistic?
Well, call it what you will, 8-21 is still 8-21, and ain’t nobody is happy about that.
So: what’s to be done? Or, (from my perspective) should something be done?
I went for a nice bike ride yesterday, my second of the summer. It was a surprisingly good ride, given that I am old, out of shape, it was 90 stinking degrees yesterday, and breezy. And I didn’t take any water with me. So, oddly enough, it was a very good ride anyway. First of all, I had a head wind when I started out, heading west, and so I set reasonable expectations for myself. Ninety degrees, no water, headwind: relax and do what you can do. I set an accomplishable goal for the ride, and then kicked it up a bit as the ride progressed; I was going to go 4.5 miles out and then turn around, but ended up going 5.6 miles out before heading home. I stopped at a favorite bakery on the way home for a icy glass of water and a hot cup of coffee, took a break in the shade, and then headed home with a great tail wind, which punched my speed up very nicely.
While at the bakery I happened to pick up the sports page. It is bad enough to be 8-20; do not make it worse by reading the sports page. There was an interview with Twins owner Jim Pohlad, who expressed confidence in Molitor and Terry Ryan, to the obvious amazement of the writer. It was like: Seriously. Dude. You aren’t going to fire them? Seriously?
Kudos to Mr. Pohlad for not panicking.
It caused me to reflect on the purpose of the newspaper, which is to sell newspapers. Probably you don’t sell a lot of newspapers if you are telling the crowd things they don’t want to hear. Perhaps these writers really think that there should be a house-cleaning at the Twins HQ, but perhaps they are writers paid to write and entertain and sell newspapers. I don’t know. It’s probably some of both.
It also caused me to reflect a bit upon the madness of crowds. When things are going wrong, the crowd will want action. Something must be done! What are newspapers for, if not to stir the crowd to action? Do SOMETHING!
But it is certainly easy to criticize and carp. (As I am doing now.) This one writer said something to the effect of how foolish it was to have Sano in right field, and they had an accompanying picture of a 30% collision out in right, Sano and Nunez. Well, it made me curious about how Sano is doing out there, and so, what do you do? You look at the statistics. His range factor (this morning) is 2.06, which is 10th out of 26. He’s got 48 total chances out there, which is 17th, but he’s only played 23 games out there, which is 22nd on the list. He’s got 1 error, which ties him for 4th on the list, with 17 other guys with 1 error. (A couple of guys have 2 errors. One guy has three.) No assists.
Okay, you can’t tell everything from statistics, but I don’t see any red flags here. The guy is a third baseman, I guess, but he’s doing a decent job in right field. While right field is certainly difficult, this is not rocket-science. Catch the ball. Throw the ball to the right place. CALL FOR IT. I think Sano can handle that. He may not be the best right fielder in baseball. But we don’t happen to have that guy sitting on our bench, either.
Ahh, well. I’m going on way too long here. Baseball is a funny game. To be fair, most of the local scribes didn’t pick these Twins to win much, pegging them at second, third, and fourth. Perhaps they were right in their estimations. But I think that you gotta have some patience. Teams go through rough spots. You have to have some faith in your estimations about the kind of team this is. Don’t go running off half-cocked. Settle down. We’ve had some injuries, we’ve had some bad breaks, we haven’t played well. We haven’t hit, we haven’t pitched. I’d give these guys a chance to get this sorted out.
Lesson learned today: set reasonable expectations, whether you are going for a bike ride or reading the sports page.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start bailing out a bit here. We seem to be listing a bit.
The Twins wrap up April (the Cruelest Month) with a 7-17 mark, which puts them 9 1/2 games off the pace for the Central Division Gonfalon. May – the Month of Rejuvenation or Recrimination, depending upon how it goes – has started off with a loss.
Last year the Twins went 20-7 in May, getting themselves back in contention. 20-7 is a lot to hope for, and not very likely, either. However, if the Twins can get back to within five or six by June, than the season is not yet lost.
Haiku for a Disruptive April:
a lengthy cold snap
frosts the grass, yet birds still sing,
and lilacs sparkle
It’s been an interesting (bad) April. Byung Ho Park gives us hope, leading the club with 6 HR, showing a lot of poise.
Ervin Santana, Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins, and Kyle Gibson, all on the disabled list already. Several of these guys are what is known as “key” players. Heralded youngster Jose Berrios is already up and already made his major league debut. (Tonight he is going for his first win, with the Twins ahead in the 9th.) Heralded youngster Byron Buxton is sent down. (Currently hitting .219 after 7 games at AAA Rochester.) Everyone is talking about the comeback of the Legendary Joe Mauer, hitting .337 with a .920 OPS. Miguel Sano is holding down right field and trying to get himself established. Eduardo Nunez hitting .373.
No, things aren’t going as expected. Which just makes for a better story later on.
Here’s a tip o’ the cap to Jose Berrios, first major league win tonight, as the Twins beat the “Astros” of Houston, 6-2.
8-18 now, for those keeping track at home.
Worst April record by a pennant-winning baseball club? Unknown. Does anybody track this sort of thing? Well, the answer in the future might be 7-17.